What is the role of platelet count in the workup of disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC)?

Updated: Dec 06, 2020
  • Author: Marcel M Levi, MD; Chief Editor: Srikanth Nagalla, MBBS, MS, FACP  more...
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Typically, moderate-to-severe thrombocytopenia is present in DIC. Thrombocytopenia is seen in as many as 98% of DIC patients, and the platelet count can dip below 50 × 109/L in 50%. [56] A trend toward decreasing platelet counts or a grossly reduced absolute platelet count is a sensitive (though not specific) indicator of DIC. [39] Repeated platelet counts are often necessary, as a single platelet measurement may indicate a level within the normal range, whereas trend values might show a precipitous drop from previous levels.

The peripheral blood smear can reveal schistocytes, though these are rarely seen to exceed 10% of red blood cells (RBCs). The presence of schistocytes is neither sensitive nor specific for DIC, but in certain instances, it may help confirm a chronic DIC diagnosis when the schistocytes are seen in concert with normal coagulation values and increased D-dimer levels. [56]

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